Tonight and tomorrow is Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day in Israel, which is commonly known as Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Day). But, the full name of the day is significant. The date was chosen in by a law passed in the Knesset in 1953 because it commemorates the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – the single largest uprising against the Nazis during the Holocaust – which intensified just before Passover 1943.
Today is a fitting day for a virtual visit to the Chamber of the Holocaust (Martef HaShoah) on Mt. Zion in Jerusalem. Martef HaShoah was the first memorial established in Israel just after the founding of the State in 1948. This place is dark and creepy as it should be. But it contains some very inspiring artifacts that symbolize some of the different types of heroism of the Jewish people under Nazi domination. In addition to a memorial to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and several memorials to Rabbis such as the Piaseczno Rebbe who gave inspiring talks during the Holocaust which are recorded in the book Holy Fire (Aish Kodesh), this place has some amazing original pieces: miniature tefillin that could be worn without the Nazis noticing, a shofar sounded in Bergen Belsen, a prayer book written from memory, and a Chanukah menorah made from potato skins. Each item reminds us of some of the greatest heroism of the Jews in the Holocaust. In that period of total and utter oppression, any act of expressing Jewishness was an uprising of it’s own. Any act of bringing light into a period of complete darkness was a victory.
May we take this time to honor those uprisings which were not so famous, but were tremendously heroic.
© 2011, Lisa (Leah) Bowman. All Rights Reserved.
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